HUNGRY downtown office workers and shoppers in midweek mode might want to consider a theater break some Thursday soon: "Intervention" at the Pacific Center. This latest lunchtime outing by TheatrExpresso, although no less prone to limitations of concept than the company's previous bills of fare, is an amusing novelty.
The script, co-written by director Michael Wilder, TheatrExpresso managing director George Shohet and Neal R. Hazard, concerns three gay friends: partners Gregory (Matt Swanson) and Sergio (Michael Piper-Younie), and free agent Robb (Jean-Patrick Simeon). This broadly drawn trio engineers the title activity on behalf of crony Talbot (Travis Sentell), suspected of latent heterosexuality. To coax him out of "the armoire," the three schemers invite Sabrina (April Hall), a co-worker he admires, to a holiday gathering that conceals their intent.
This -- along with a welcoming atmosphere and some smart California cuisine for those who elect to buy lunch -- sums up "Intervention," which is less a play than a "Will & Grace" episode, inverted stereotypes and all. There is obvious sincerity and some funny one-liners, but reversing cliches does not automatically deflate them (though the curtain twist is a neat sketch-comedy reversal).
Director Wilder and the designers are resourceful (Cha Blevins' costumes offer instant identification), and the actors are a plus. Hall conveys a piquancy that recalls '30s movie comedians such as Jean Arthur. Sentell, Simeon and Swanson are proficient players, and Piper-Younie's shrimp-puff hysteric is ready for his three-camera setup.
The frisky cast and tasty food may satisfy appetites in the vicinity. It is harder to predict "Intervention's" appeal to hard-line activists, long-distance commuters and/or theatergoers who are allergic to network television tactics onstage.
Where: Pacific Center, 523 W. 6th St., L.A.
When: 11:50 a.m. and 1:10 p.m. today and every Thursday through Jan. 26
Price: $10; with fixed-price lunch, $18.66
Info: (310) 452-5567 or www.theatrexpresso.com
Running time: 1 hour